MEET SHIRLEY LEDLIE

My guest this week has another inspiring story to tell. Like so many people we might bump into in our daily lives we have no idea what people have suffered – unless they write a book about it, and Shirley has done just that. Far from being a simple biography, Shirley’s book was suddenly in great demand, but I’ll let her tell you herself.

Billy

I was born in Nottingham, England in 1958 and yes, that means I will reach the big sixty later this year. I’m the author of Naked in the Wind-chemo, hairloss and Deceit plus, two short travelogues.

As far as writing is concerned, I’m a late starter. After moving to France, almost twenty years ago, I had the opportunity to sign a contract with the UK Bella Magazine to write a weekly life-style article. Each week I would write half a page about life in Brittany for an ex-pat family. Our ever-growing family of animals featured in it fairly often; with four dogs, hens, quails, ducks, two cats, a rabbit, guinea-pigs and last but not least a donkey, there was always some escapade to write about! How I loved it! This lasted for a little over a year until a new editor having a clean sweep, swiftly brought my writing career to an abrupt halt.

At this point in my life, I had no idea five years later I would be at the forefront of a Big Pharma scandal and campaign, a co-founder of a global support group and I would write a memoir about it! What a whirlwind ten years it’s been.

So, what exactly have I been campaigning for, the last ten years? Patient Rights.  After being diagnosed with breast cancer, the surgery, chemo, and radiotherapy became my routine for the following ten months. I don’t mind confessing to being a total wimp and if it hadn’t been for my friend dragging me into the car every three weeks I doubt I would have finished my chemo sessions.  Little did I know that the following year I would discover that the new chemo regime had left me with a permanent disfigurement, that wasn’t as rare as I’d been informed.  It wasn’t long before I realised others being treated with the same drug were also not being warned.

SHIRLEY LEDLIE

I’ve always been an ‘all or nothing kind of girl’ and this instantly fell into the ‘all’ category! I threw myself into raising awareness about this little-known side effect often in my own peculiar way,  took on the giants of the pharmaceutical world and co-founded a global support group.

Some of the support group members would despair at some of my wacky antics, but it had become apparent that nice and polite was not going to work. I carried on regardless.

After seven years of living in this surreal world, I finally accepted my disfigurement and the only thing left to do was write a book about my journey. This was supposed to be the grand finale. I could now get on with my new normal life. Wrong. The legal eagles in the US picked up on the story. One morning I checked to see how many books of Naked in the Wind I’d recently sold. There was a large bulk order. Suddenly my memoir was of much interest to several law firms in the US! I instantly found myself being sucked back into the, almost, forgotten world of Big Pharma. The podcast/radio interview requests started to appear in my inbox, articles needed writing and my past fight was discussed all over the internet. I’m still involved as of today, but where it will end I have no idea! I’m just going with the flow and if I can help in any way, I will.

sHIRLEY PILGRIM BOOK

After my first memoir, I wrote two short light-hearted travelogues The Unexpected Pilgrim and Mischief in Manhattan. I didn’t plan beforehand to write about my trip to Israel. After returning home from the spur-of-the-moment visit, I was so spiritually moved I felt compelled to share and I really hoped that readers would be able to put their political beliefs to one side. Some readers have emailed me, thanking me for telling a different story to the one they read about in the tabloids.  I will warn you though; your feet will be aching by the time you read the last page!

The Unexpected Pilgrim: A light-hearted and fast-moving travelogue.

When presented with an opportunity to visit Israel for four days, Shirley decided it was a

chance she could not turn down. It would mean sightseeing on her own – a daunting task for this woman in her mid-fifties with a terrible sense of direction.

She decides to cram as much as possible into her short time there with some amusing and exhausting consequences!

SHIRLEY MANHATEN BOOK

Before leaving for New York City, I’d already planned to write about this sight-seeing trip, so I was well prepared to take notes about everything. We crammed so much into every day; I was worried my poor Fitbit would explode as it clocked up on average 28,000 steps every day.

Mischief in Manhattan:  Five women from England decide to go to New York City for five days, to sightsee and celebrate a 50th birthday. Shirley was invited along to make up the numbers, but how would she get on with the three ladies she didn’t know? Would they all see eye to eye or would there be bickering in the Big Apple? How do fried dumplings, spoons and dress shoes become an issue? With neighbours they hadn’t bargained for and some typical ‘Englishness’ thrown in, this travel memoir is sure to keep you entertained!

What’s next? I have made a start on my first novel and the first in a series of motorhome travels around France, Portugal, and Spain.

Thank you, Lucinda, for inviting me to be a guest author!

Here are the links to Shirley’s books,

Naked in the Wind  https://amzn.to/2EX5TGD

The Unexpected Pilgrim  https://amzn.to/2ErAOer

Mischief in Manhattan  https://amzn.to/2JVTCWP

And thank you, Shirley, for being my guest,  I’m honoured to share your story which will inspire and give hope to many people.

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MEET CLARE PEDRICK

I’m thrilled to welcome my guest this week who also forsook the grey skies of UK to live in the warmer climes of Europe – only no one mentions that Europe can be very cold in winter. Just when you thought you had read everything about relocating and renovating an old European building along comes this book with a difference – a love story with a house and the battle to make it habitable and blend in with the local community. Over to Clare.

Clare and house

I’m told that most people who buy a house take the trouble to get it checked out first, and see that there is no serious structural damage, or reason why they shouldn’t invest their money in that place or property. When I fell in love with an old farmhouse in the hills of Umbria, I took less than ten minutes to make my mind up, before writing out a cheque on the spot. I was so excited that I couldn’t wait to tell my elder brother, and called him that same evening from the only telephone for miles around, which was located in the corner of the village shop.

Even the crackling phone line couldn’t disguise the horror in his voice when he heard what I had done.

“What does the surveyor say? Presumably, you’ve had the property checked out?” he said reasonably.

“I haven’t got a surveyor,” I answered.

“Well, what about a lawyer. Surely you’ve consulted one of those?”

“Er, no. I haven’t.”

“Well don’t worry. We’re still in time to stop this. We can get your deposit back if you only decided to buy the place this morning.” My brother was trying to sound calm and reassuring.

“No, we can’t. I already paid the whole amount. And I don’t want to pull out of the deal. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen in my life.”

In my defence, there wouldn’t have been much point in having a surveyor inspect my new purchase, as there wasn’t a great deal of it left standing. The old stone house that I had rashly just bought had hardly any roof, gaping holes in most of the stone floors and one entire section that had disintegrated into a pile of rubble.

But I was just 26, and blind as only a person in love can be. I had seen an advert for the house in an English newspaper just three days earlier and boarded first a plane, then a train to reach a remote corner of central Italy, on a journey that was to change my life.

FRONT COVER IN JPG medium

The story of how I came to buy an old stone house perched on a knoll outside a tiny hamlet in the hills of southern Umbria is told in my book Chickens Eat Pasta: Escape to Umbria.  It’s a love story really, with the house itself of course, and with a man, I later met there – a strange coincidence given that I was only the 43rd resident in the little hilltop village, where everyone knew everyone else, and most of them were related.

By rights, the whole unplanned adventure could and maybe should have gone horribly wrong. Not only had I bought an old ruin with no clear idea or plan of how to restore it. I had also inadvertently chosen one of the most highly seismic areas of Europe as my future home. The village where my house is situated is in one of the most earthquake-prone areas of Italy, and as I soon discovered, tremors are quite common, generally heralded by the glasses rattling on the shelves.

This was my house when I first saw it

The house when Clare first saw it

But as things turned out, my insouciance was rewarded. I made some extraordinary friends, who looked after me and helped me through some very difficult times and encounters, and these make up a cast of characters who are every bit as important as the protagonist.

Of course, I’m by no means the first person to write a book about doing up a property in a foreign country, but my story is very different from the best-known titles in this genre. For a start, it’s not a syrupy tale of sunshine and happiness. Not everyone was kind to me, nor was it always warm. The climate in this part of Italy can be very harsh, and I well remember that first winter, with no heating aside from the open fire, and the bitterly cold air seeping in through the rotten window frames and missing panes. The only way to get warm was to go outside and chop wood, before heating water over the open fire to cook a plate of pasta, all by the light of a candle as the sun sank over the snow-capped mountains.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The village that became Clare’s second home.

These days, my house has a roof, solid window frames, electricity and heating. It’s also been renovated to withstand earthquakes which involved dismantling the building brick by brick and lining each room with wire cages so that the structure would flex instead of collapsing when the earth shook beneath it. That’s just as well given the massive tremors that have struck this part of Italy over the past 18 months. My experience has confirmed a strong belief in the power of love, friendship, and coincidences – and that just sometimes, it pays not to ask too many questions before taking the plunge.

my house now

The house now.

From Clare’s press release:

As events unfold, the strong storyline carries with it a rich portrayal of Italian life from the inside, with a supporting cast of memorable characters. Along the way, the book explores and captures the warmth and colour of Italy, as well as some of the cultural differences – between England and Italy, but also between regional Italian lifestyles and behaviour. It is a story with a happy ending. The author and her husband are still married, with three children, who love the old house on the hill (now much restored) almost as much as she does.
I wrote the book partly for our children, who have grown up spending their weekends and summers there. The house has been completely restored – it’s hard for the children to understand how dilapidated and basic it was when I was first bewitched by the place.”

You can follow Clare on her Facebook Book Page, her own Facebook page and on Twitter.

Read her blog about life in Umbria here

Chickens Eat Pasta is published by Troubador and is available for purchase direct from the publishers here and in all the usual places in both ebook and paperback.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Chickens-Eat-Pasta-Clare-Pedrick/dp/1784623512

CLARE PEDRICK is a British journalist who studied Italian at Cambridge University before becoming a reporter. She went on to work as the Rome correspondent for the Washington Post and as European Editor of an international features agency. She still lives in Italy with her husband, whom she met in the village where she bought her house.
PUBLISHED 28 July 2015
£9.99 (Paperback)
ISBN 9781784623517 (Paperback)
Distributor: ´Orca Book Services. Tel: 01235 465521.

Email: tradeorders@orcabookservices.co.uk
BIC subject category : BM – Memoirs / WTL – Travel writing
Paperback 216 x 138mm Portrait
ADVANCE INFORMATION
please contact Sarah Taylor
Tel: 0116 279 2299 Email: marketing@troubador.co.uk

Troubador Publishing Ltd, 9 Priory Business Park, Kibworth, Leicester LE8 0RX

Most people would not have shown as much courage as Clare and stories like hers are inspiring, they show what can be achieved if you are determined and prepared to step out of the everyday rut. You can’t help but admire Clare – a huge thank you for being my guest this week.

Till next time take care.

 

 

 

MEET CHRIS ROSE

This week’s guest is someone quite new to me, but then you never know what writer or genre to expect on here each Thursday do you? Hopefully something for everyone. Until I jumped onto the treadmill of this writing / marketing lark I had no idea there were so many different genres and sub-genres, and sub sub genres. I’m not quite sure which box Chris Rose fits into, but I’ll let him explain.

Chris RoseA big thank-you to Lucinda for inviting me onto her fabulous website.

I Chris, I was born and bred in Sheffield, England, a long time ago, and misspent the majority of my ‘young’ years on the Northern Soul circuit, which mainly consisted of trips to Wigan’s Casino Club just about every weekend, for young, Soul music connoisseurs who wished to dance all night long – oh, those heady 1970s! I mention this because it’s around the time and place my first novel – Wood, Talc and Mr. J: We never had it so good… – is set.

NEWEST KINDLE JPEG

Having written the book, and beginning to market it, I also began to kind of write blog posts alongside, about everyday aspects of contemporary life but then making comparisons with the main character in the novel, Phillip Rowlings, and his world, and wondering just how different the 1970s were, and how he might have reacted and so on.

In time, people were telling me I should make a book from the best of these blog posts, and so I published 22 daydreams (or Wood, Talc and Mr. J, my social media ramblings thereof…) It may already seem a little outdated, times changing so quickly, but it kind of acts as a study guide to the main novel.

Nancy Kindle JPEG

And since then I’ve felt compelled to carry on the journey with the main character, slowly but surely bringing him up to date – that’s the aim. The sequel, Nancy Boy: for one year only…, is set in France in the 1990s. It’s a bit more of an introspective and quite a different world from Phillip’s Soul music days.

And since then, for the third book, I’ve begun a trilogy of novellas, the first being The All-clear: an anti-romance novella…, which is now published. The next will be The Battleaxe of Hastings: an anti-hist-fic novella…, and the third, Broken Strings: an anti-chick-lit novella…

The ALL-CLEAR kindle JPEG

And if you love a bit of comedy in with your tragedy, books that make you think and laugh at the same time – and very British! – then these are books for you. Sorry, though, no vampires, nothing paranormal, vulgar or too tweety, happy-every-after tweety…

22 daydreams JPEG

The actual series is called: The Rowlings Years.

But one last thing, I’m currently writing a book that has nothing at all to do with the series. It’s a little aside and something I couldn’t resist. That’s all I’m saying for now, but it’ll hopefully be published early in the coming year.

And until then, all the best for 2018, peace and love to one and all!

Wood, Talc and Mr. J: We never had it so good… >>> http://amzn.to/2zbiAv6
Nancy Boy: for one year only… >>> http://amzn.to/2xZjAFN

The All-clear: an anti-romance novella >>>  http://amzn.to/2jHgDQN

22 daydreams: or Wood, Talc and Mr. J, my social media ramblings thereof… >>> http://amzn.to/2A0hOGk 

Website link >>> http://thetheatricaltwistofwrist.com/

Facebook link >>> https://www.facebook.com/TheTheatricalTwistofWrist/

Twitter >>>  https://twitter.com/WritingOnACloud

Thank you, Chris and I love that you call my website fabulous – flattery will get you everywhere with me!

Until next time, take care.

MEET ROBERT FEAR (FRED)

This week’s guest author I know from chats on FB, particularly in the groups Indie Authors Support and Discussion and We Love Memoirs. I’ve also read many of his books and enjoyed them. How many of you will pick up on the word ‘time’ in one of his titles? I’m really pleased to welcome Robert/Fred Fear on this week’s blog, starting with a brief biography.

Robert Fear has lived in Eastbourne, on the south coast of the UK for half his life. He moved there to be with Lynn, his future wife and is still there with her thirty years later. As cat-lovers they have taken on several rescue cats over the years and are owned by three at the moment – Hazell (tabby), Jet (black) and Sparky, a bouncy ginger one-year-old.

For his day job, Robert works as a self-employed software consultant. In his spare time, he writes, edits and self-publishes books, and organises annual travel writing competitions.

Robert’s interest in travel goes back to his twenties when he spent most of his time abroad. His experiences included; a summer in Ibiza, hitch-hiking around Europe and touring the USA & Canada. His most eventful trip was in 1981 when he travelled around Asia.

Born into a religious sect known as the Exclusive Brethren, his father John took the brave step of leaving it with his young family when Robert was nine years old. Robert never saw his grandparents again but is thankful for being able to grow up outside this restrictive group. His life has been full of adventures that he would never have experienced otherwise.

Robert Fear - Author Pic

Fred was a nickname that Robert Fear was given while at school. It became his travel name and he is still known as Fred to this day. In this blog post Fred talks about the background to his self-publishing ventures.

Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia is the edited version of a handwritten diary that I kept during my travels in Asia between February and July 1981. The final collection ran to 600 pages of closely written detail.

It was almost forgotten for many years, only making an appearance when friends asked to see it or to read it.

Fred's Diary 1981 cover v2

In 2005 I decided to start typing up my diary onto the computer. I managed to get the first two months done but then ran out of motivation.

A couple of years later there was an article in a PC magazine about Kindle and self-publishing that sparked my interest.

The second part of my diary was released in 2009 and its title, Time in Thailand, probably indicates to you that things didn’t go as planned. £99 to Hong Kong was published in 2011 and covers the first part of my trip where I did some work as an extra for Chinese television.

By now the bug had truly bitten and I started planning the release of the whole diary. Over the next two years, I typed everything up and started editing the diary for publication, all in my spare time.

Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia was self-published in December 2013 and was relatively successful. It was a long book though. The paperback version ran to 564 pages and contained 165K words.

During the first few months of 2015 further editing was undertaken and the second edition, released in October 2015, contained less than 100K words, with around 360 pages. It has also had a professional final edit and a wonderful new cover.

A lot of my spare time over the past couple of years has been devoted to making my father’s dream come true.

It started for me back in 1992 when my father, John, was becoming increasingly frail and was confined to bed most of the time. Visits to the hospital became more frequent and the doctors were talking about months, not years.

John had been working on his memoirs for several years and had already typed up many of the chapters. He also had plans in place for finishing the remaining chapters of his book. Now he was unable to continue and my mother, Mary, called me to see if I could help. I was more than happy to.

In the evenings and at weekends I sat at my computer and transcribed the chapters that John had already finished. These were duly printed off and sent back to him. It was a period of reconciliation between father and eldest son as we discussed the changes that he wanted made and planned for the missing chapters.

Exclusive Pedigree v3

During the months following his death, I continued working on John’s memoirs with the help of Mary and my brother, Alastair. The limited edition was published under the title Exclusive Pedigree and if it hadn’t been for a chance remark the life of the book could have ended there.

Towards the end of 2015, I was visiting my mother for a few days and gave her a paperback copy of the second edition of Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia, which she wanted to read. The conversation turned to self-publishing and we started talking about John’s memoirs. Then came the bombshell, “Did you know Rob that John always wanted to have his book published properly?”

Thanks to the tremendous support of beta-readers and fellow authors alike, my father’s memoirs were professionally self-published in July 2016. I think John would be proud of the finished result, a fabulous tribute to his life entitled Exclusive Pedigree: My life in and out of the Brethren.

Travel Stories 2017

While working on the second edition of Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia, I started a blog in February 2015 to assist me with the editing process. To encourage people to visit my blog fd81.net I started a Travel Story competition for entries of between 500-1000 words which I ran in parallel with daily diary extracts.

It was such a success that I subsequently ran another competition for Travel Highlights of between 50-100 words. Again this went very well. I decided to publish all the entries in a new book called Travel Stories and Highlights.

Travel Stories 2018

In 2016 I re-ran the two competitions. Again, there were a lot of fantastic entries and a 2017 Edition of Travel Stories and Highlights was published in December 2017 with the best 50 travel stories and 50 highlights from both sets of competitions.

This year was the third year for the competitions and the response has been so terrific that I have been able to publish a brand new 2018 Edition containing 60 compelling Travel Stories and 40 absorbing Travel Highlights.

Twitter:  @fredsdiary1981

Fred’s Blog:   fd81.net

Facebook:    www.facebook.com/fredsdiary1981

Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia   getBook.at/FredsDiary1981

Exclusive Pedigree: My life in and out of the Brethren  getBook.at/ExclusivePedigree

Travel Stories and Highlights: 2017 Edition   getBook.at/TravelStories2017

Travel Stories and Highlights: 2018 Edition   getBook.at/TravelStories2018

Thank you, Robert, for being my guest today and I can personally recommend his books, especially if you like traveling.

Till next time, take care.

 

MEET VALERIE POORE

I have, I really have! What I mean is that I first met Val on Facebook, we got chatting, we enjoyed each other’s books, then we discovered a real live person we know in common and finally we met up twice – once in Amsterdam and again in Spain. We’re planning another meet up soon, so many of our early experiences are amazingly similar. A very warm welcome to a really nice person. Over to you Val.

VAL PIC

Firstly, thanks so much to Lucinda for letting me sneak in here this week. I’ve coveted a spot on her blog for ages, so now I’m here I’d better make it good!

So what can I say about myself? That I’ve been writing all my life? That I’m finally finding my creative outlet? Yes, well, none of that is very interesting is it? Perhaps it’s truer to say that I’m a writer by accident and it’s all Peter Mayle’s fault. Yes, that man has got a lot to answer for in more ways than one and now I’m addicted.

The thing is that like Lucinda, I lived in South Africa for a long time. How I got there is a story I have yet to tell in full, but it had to do with an errant husband and being very cold in the UK. In other words, we urgently (and I say that with emphasis) needed somewhere to escape to and I was determined it should be somewhere warm. ‘I don’t mind being broke, but I do mind being cold and broke,’ was what I said to him before we decided where it was we were going to flee to. The immediate outcome was three years on a South African farm, which I absolutely loved, along with the heat, the drought, the primitive conditions…hmm, I think I’m going off track here, but actually I did love it all. The end result was that I was so happy there I spent a total of twenty years in South Africa.KindleCover

When I came back to Europe in 2001, I missed it so much I decided to buy a barge and live on the water in the wettest country you could possibly find. There is a kind of logic to that but I’ll let you think about it.

Anyway, while I was still busy missing my former home in 2004, I read Peter Mayle’s book A Year in Provence. Now I know this book has had a mixed reception, but I really enjoyed it because I could see so many parallels between his experiences with local French country people and my own with South African rural people and I thought ‘I can do that’. And so I did. I wrote my own memoir about my life on our South African farm and I called it African Ways. It took me a while to finish it and then to publish, but it eventually came out in 2007.

Well, having done that, I got the taste and then the addiction for writing.

I went on to write a memoir about my first year of living on a barge, and then a novel about a child growing up on a barge in the early 1960s when the Cold War was at its height. Since then, I’ve notched up another four memoirs (mostly about boats and boating) and another novel. So, Peter Mayle, if you’re reading this, see what you started?

It is actually true I’ve always liked writing. I did quite a lot before when I was in South Africa; things like short stories that were read on the radio and radio plays that weren’t. But I’d never written whole books until African Ways. The trouble with Africa is it gets in your blood and so now I’m in the process of publishing the sequel to African Ways. Once again, I’ve wallowed happily in the memories of that fabulous country. I’m also working on a novel set in Kwa-Zulu Natal, one of its provinces and where I used to live, so you see I’ve got a lot in common with Lucinda. Oh and I’ll just say here I’ve loved all her Amie novels. They take me back there and I can wallow all over again (nothing like creeping round your blog host, is there?). VAL BOOK 3 SHEEP

So with that, all it remains for me to say is a huge thanks to Lucinda for this opportunity to ramble on about myself and my writing. I’ll keep doing it until I drop whether anyone buys my books or not, but I’d thrilled if anyone reading this does give them a try. Just in case, the link to my Amazon author page is here:

https://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Poore/e/B008LSV6CE/

Val, I’ve no idea why it took so long for you to be on my blog, but you can come again soon – I adore all that creeping (cheques in the post).

This last book on the left is highly recommended, I laughed out loud all the way through and although Val tells me it’s only partly memoir-based, I’m not sure I believe her 🙂

Till next time, take care.

 

VIENNA AND VIEWS

TRAVEL

While on our bus tour, we got brief glimpses of the UNO village complex which houses several departments of the United Nations and the St Francis Assisi Church. I just wanted to backtrackIMG_4895 on that a little to show you the pictures of some of the stained glass windows in the Votive Church we’d seen earlier (stained glass windows must be one of the most beautiful sights ever, especially when the sun shines through them). And also a picture of this amazing contraption, which I guess they must use for cleaning the windows or getting up anywhere high? It has a lot more charm than the modern cherry-picker.

The next morning we walked into the central museum complex area as I wanted to take pics of the guys selling tickets for the various musical concerts. They were all dressed in period costume. To my surprise, they seemed a little reluctant to have their photos taken, but I persevered and there was nowhere for them to hide anyway!

HISTORY

Of course, we all know that princesses fall in love all the time but when Princess Elizabeth did, it was not at all popular. He was a Prince of course, but he didn’t have a kingdom or even a princedom anymore and his family was a bit strange as well.

PRINCE PHILIP

It was a big problem in those days, marrying other royals, they were all foreign!

The one Princess Elizabeth chose looked very handsome but had a decidedly dodgy family. His father had lost his throne and was no longer the King of Greece, all his sisters had married Germans and his mother was in a home for the insane.

But, on the other hand, he had lived in England and spoke the local lingo with a posh accent so maybe he would be OK.

qe !! MARRIAGE

In a blaze of publicity and a welcome respite from the drudgery of post-war life, the two married on 20th November 1947 in Westminster Abbey.

Now, this is something not many people know. Westminster is NOT an Abbey, though it is built on the site of an old abbey. It’s NOT even a cathedral. Its proper name is the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster.  It’s the traditional venue for royal coronations and weddings, having the status of a Church of England, ‘Royal Peculiar’  – a church responsible directly to the sovereign.

THE NATURAL BREAK (A polite way of saying that here is where I talk about my books)

Amie Back Story v2.1

Each month I write a new chapter to the Amie backstories, featuring mostly her elder sister Samantha and Ben whom she first meets as her cameraman in Togodo.

Sam is an idiot and constantly getting into one scrape after another on her first trip abroad, while Ben is psyching himself in his rural village to become a man. This is a teaser from the first chapter and you can download the next 14 chapters for free from my monthly newsletter.

This is the link to click on. http://eepurl.com/c-GqWr

PART ONE

Battered and bruised, Amie sat shivering alone in the small prison cell. How had this happened? Where had it all gone wrong? She thought back to where she had come from, anything to take her mind off waiting for the next appalling meal to be shoved through the flap at the bottom of the door. It was always the same, a heap of maize meal porridge, a watery stew in which floated the odd suspect morsel of meat surrounded by pulpy vegetables. The only drink they’d offered her was water and she wasn’t too sure that was clean. Despite her revulsion, when her stomach began to rumble after the first couple of days, she could sense her strength beginning to ebb, and she devoured the food and drank every last drop.

How long had she been there? Days, weeks? If only she’d thought to scratch on the wall to mark the passing of time, but it was too late now.

She took in her surroundings. One lumpy, stained, foam mattress on the bare concrete floor, a bucket in the corner that was emptied only once a day, a window securely barred, too high for her to reach and look out. She could hear the everyday sounds from the nearby market, but no one knew she was there; no one was going to come and rescue her. She lived with the ever-present worry that at any moment she would hear footsteps echoing down the corridor outside coming to drag her outside to go and answer more questions.

All she had left were thoughts and memories of her former life in a warm and loving family thousands of miles away in England. She smiled as she remembered the times she and her sister had discussed their future lives, it had seemed so easy, so predictable, so planned and precise, so ordinary. She could see it so clearly as if it was yesterday.

SAM

“Amie, I need your help with my homework,” said Samantha, flinging open the door to her sister’s bedroom.

“Not again! If you didn’t spend so much time mooning over Gerry, you’d get twice as much done. And how am I supposed to help? You’re two years above me!”

Samantha ignored the comment and threw herself onto the bed. “It’s all right for you, it’s all too easy, you’ll romp through your exams.”

“Only because I work hard, and concentrate in class. I know what I want to do and where I’m going. I have it all planned out.” Amie sounded smug.

Her elder sister sighed. “I guess I’ll go the teaching route, it’ll fit in better with being a housewife and a mother. Though,” she added, “I have no intention of getting tied down too early. I want to travel and see the world first.”

BEN

Seven thousand miles further south sat another young person thinking about his future, a future which could not be more different to the one Amie faced. He scuffed his bare, black toes in the dust making swirling patterns, only to obliterate them and begin again. He hated to admit it: he was frightened. It was bad enough for the other boys, but he was the son of his father who was brother to the chief. They would expect more of him, he would possibly be the first one and he would not dare flinch, nor cry out however bad the pain was. He shuddered just to think about it. It was made even worse knowing that he was the youngest in the age regiment, and on his shoulders rested the standing of his family in the tribe.

Like the dust particles he was stirring, thoughts circled around Ben’s head. He was torn, halfway between the old world and the new. He was now part of the modern Africa. He lived in a house with a bathroom, hot and cold water flowed from the taps, and he slept in his own bed. He attended the best school in Apatu, run mostly by the local British expats who showed him pictures and videos of places on the other side of the world. He watched in awe as pictures of spaceships rocketed skywards, saw men walking on the moon, and listened as they explained how satellites orbited the earth too far above them to be seen. In many respects, he was receiving a similar education to Amie, but that is where the similarity ended.

He was familiar with the village where his family sent him for the holidays. When he was very small it was fun to throw off his shoes, run barefoot across the savannah and bathe naked in the shallow river. He’d follow his father’s cattle for long days under the blazing sun, occasionally screaming and chasing away the odd hyena or wild dog that came too close. He’d wave his long stick and jump up and down without getting too close. To his relief, not once did the predators come any nearer, but slunk off with their tails between their legs.

In his earlier years, he’d enjoyed the company of the other boys close in age, as they ran free as birds, ducking and diving under the lower hanging branches of the smaller thorn trees. They spent hours poking long sticks into the tall, red termite mounds, throwing stones at the weaver birds’ nests to bring them crashing down to the ground, much to the frustration of the males who shrieked with fury. Hours of hard work patiently weaving the strands of dry, yellow grass into the tightly knit balls precariously fixed to the very end of the thorn branches, lost because of the fecklessness of some nasty little boys running wild. He’d competed in the informal running races, mock fighting with sticks against the others, and sitting breathlessly at the feet of the local storyteller. The old man had told tales of past heroic deeds by members of their tribe, stories of how the majestic African animals lived on the plains and the legacy of the ancestral spirits who guarded the tribes-folk from beyond the grave.

Till next week, take care.

 

MEET BRENDAN GERAD O’BRIEN

OK, OK, I admit it I have a soft spot for Irish writers, the land of my birth, though I have long since lost the accent.  While we may speak the same language as the English, Welsh, Scots, Americans and the Australians, I maintain we have poetry and words flowing through our veins. Have you guessed that this week’s guest is also from Ireland? What a surprise!  Welcome, Brendan Gerad O’Brien. He now lives in Wales, but you can never take the power of words away from the Irish – not that I’m biased of course. Over to Brendan.

Brend

When I won my first writing competition I was so excited I ran all the way home. I was about eight years old. The Fun Fair was coming to Tralee – our little town on the West coast of Ireland – and apart from Duffy’s Circus which came in September, this was the highlight of our year. Our English teacher asked us to write an essay about it and I won the only prize – a book of ten tickets for the fair.

So writing was in my blood from a very young age. My uncle Moss Scanlon had a small Harness Maker’s shop in Listowel – a bus ride from Tralee – where I spent some wonderful summer holidays. The shop was a magnet for all sorts of colourful characters who’d wander in for a chat and a bit of jovial banter. One famous storyteller who often popped in was John B Keane, and I asked him once where he got his ideas from. He told me that everyone has a story to tell so just listen to them. I was there when John B’s first story was read out on Radio Eireann. I can still remember the buzz of excitement.

But it was only when I got married and the children came along that I made any serious attempt to write a book.

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The result was Dark Septembera brutal alternative history thriller set in Newport during WW2. Germany invade Britain. Stormtroopers attack the South Wales coast to capture the coal mines. Newport is blitzed. Danny O’Shea’s wife is killed. O’Shea heads for neutral Ireland with his son and they witness Welsh Nationalists ambushing a German convoy carrying a mysterious cargo.

But the Nationalists fall out and the cargo disappears. Then O’Shea goes to the aid of a dying woman – and both the Germans and the Nationalists believe she told him where it’s hidden. Now pursued by both the Germans and the insurgents, his only concern is to get his son to safety.

I always found writing short stories is amazingly therapeutic. I get a great buzz from taking an idea and developing it, often watching it evolve into something completely different from how it started out. Great ideas are all around us. Little gems are waiting to be harvested everywhere we look. I found myself listening to what people are saying, and the way they say it.

For instance, the Irish are famous for their colourful and exaggerated language, always using a dozen words when one would have done. So I set my short stories in Ireland. The names are changed, of course, because I don’t earn enough to survive a lawsuit.

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Dreamin’ Dreams contains twenty of my published short stories. They’re all based on real people who passed through my life at some time or other, or events that actually happened to me. Enhanced, of course, and sometimes exaggerated out of all proportion.

The title comes from something my father said years ago when I got poor grades at school. ‘What do you expect?’ he said to my mother. ‘He never does any studying. He just sits there, dreamin’ dreams.’

Gallows Field paperback new

This was followed by Gallows Field, set in Tralee, Ireland during WW2.  Eamon Foley, a Local Security volunteer is in a crowded pub when his brother-in-law Joe McCarthy is shot dead. Foley thinks he sees a face from his past when he was working in Dublin and witnessed a brutal murder. Important items went missing then and the killer believed Foley took them. Foley thinks shooting Joe was a warning that they’ve caught up with him and are looking for their stuff.

But Garda Sergeant Liam Edge believes Joe was a victim of a jealous husband because of his involvement with numerous women.

Then Foley’s sister Mary is found dead in the town park.

And his son is taken by a nun in a car.

When Foley illegally obtains evidence saying who is responsible, Sgt Edge dismisses it, insisting they follow proper police procedure.  With dreadful results.

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My latest book is A Pale Moon Was Rising, again featuring Eamon Foley during 1944. A German submarine is spotted in Tralee Bay on the West coast of Ireland.

Next morning the body of a young man with fatal head injuries is found in the river. He’s wearing a distinctive silver ring.

Garda Eamon Foley traces the ring to Paudy Daly, who’s been missing for over nine months.

But Paudy’s father, the notorious Mixer Daly, is furious when he sees the body. Because it is not his son.

Garda Foley discovers that the body is that of a Polish seaman. So where did he get Paudy’s ring?

Then Garda Foley learns that the last time Paudy was seen alive, he was on his way to rob a pig-breeder’s house.

Writing magazine

Thanks for choosing me for your blog, and have a great week,

Sláinte

Brendan

bgobrien.net

I had no idea that Brendan was such a prolific writer, as the books featured here are only a part of his vast repertoire. Check him out on his Amazon author  page

https://www.amazon.com/Brendan-Gerad-OBrien/e/B006ICG2HE 

and thank you for being my guest this week.